Dr. Mark Rubinstein, a pediatrician and formerly a leading researcher with UC San Francisco’s Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, has been hired as Juul’s executive medical officer. Rubinstein is renowned for his research in teen nicotine addiction and has spoken openly about the risks of vaping in minors.
The medical director will lead the Juul’s youth prevention programs and policy positions, and help build relationships between the company and the public health community.
As a result of all the backlash it has been facing, Juul Labs has been doing its utmost to restore its reputation as having harm reduction at heart, and says that this move was part of its effort to curb teen addiction to its products. In a statement, Juul said Rubinstein would oversee research on underage use of vaping products, lead the company’s youth prevention programs and policy positions, and help build relationships between the company and the public health community.
Critics on the other hand, see this as nothing but a ploy no different than the tactics adopted by Big Tobacco in the not so distant past. Colleagues of Rubinstein, who are skeptical of Juul’s motivation are disturbed by the fact that the researcher accepted this position. “Even if you believe in harm reduction, to go work for a tobacco company … to me goes against everything that anybody doing control should believe in,” said University professor Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, a fellow researcher on teen vaping, who has closely worked with Rubinstein.
Juul CEO Says Their Product Was Never Intended For Minors
In the US, Juul has been singled out as the main culprit for the alleged teen vaping “epidemic” by several entities. In the documentary, “Vaporized: America’s E-cigarette Addiction,” which premiered this Monday, Juul’s CEO Kevin Burns was asked what he would say to a parent whose child is addicted to Juul.
The CEO, who joined Juul in late 2017, said that he would say he’s sorry and that the company has never targeted teens. “First of all, I’d tell them that I’m sorry that their child’s using the product,” said Burns. “It’s not intended for them. I hope there was nothing that we did that made it appealing to them. As a parent of a 16-year-old, I’m sorry for them, and I have empathy for them, in terms of what the challenges they’re going through.”
Read Further: Los Angeles Times